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Seehofer lays down 'zero tolerance' policy

March 23, 2018

In his first speech in parliament, Germany's new interior minister said the country needs a 'strong state' to protect its citizens. He reiterated his call for tighter internal border controls.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer addresses the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag
Image: Getty Images/AFP/J. McDougall

Horst Seehofer on Friday laid out his vision for a "strong state" with "zero tolerance" toward criminals during his maiden speech as Germany's interior minister in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament.

Seehofer underscored controlled and limited immigration and the promotion of social cohesion as his other priorities, just a week after he kicked off a debate by saying: "Islam is not part of Germany."

Read more: Opinion: The eternal dispute between politics and religion

Seehofer's speech: Key points

  • The security situation, in view of Islamic terrorism, continues to be "very threatening," Seehofer said.
  • He also reaffirmed his intention to maintain controls at the German borders as long as the EU did not guarantee security effectively at its external borders.
  • He reiterated plans to put in place a "master plan" to speed up asylum procedures and ensure consistent deportations.
  • Seehofer said he plans to get Cabinet approvals for key projects before the summer break in May.
  • "Where boundaries have been crossed, rules or laws are broken; I am going to show zero tolerance," Seehofer said.
  • "Security is a human right, and I am committed to this every day."

Read more: German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer calls for more internal border controls

The Islam debate: Shortly after taking office, Seehofer said Islam was not part of Germany, but the Muslims were. His first speech in parliament underscored his efforts to push the government to the right in order to win back voters from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). His statement could set an early confrontation course with Merkel, who rebutted Seehofer in her first speech to parliament since re-election this week, saying, "Islam is part of Germany."

Who is Horst Seehofer: A former state premier of Bavaria, Seehofer is the leader of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). He has been critical of Merkel's refugee and immigration policies. He took over the newly renamed and enhanced Interior, Construction and Homeland ("Heimat") Ministry.

Read more: A deeper look at Germany's new Interior and Heimat Ministry

ap/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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